Oct 5, 2013

The Conflicted, Confused Gay Teen of 90210

Gay teens on tv are always "conflicted" and "confused."  They can never make the logical conclusion: "I like guys...I'm gay."  Heterosexuals want them to struggle, moan, complain, try their best not to be gay, as if they're coming to grips with some horrible disability.

It's been that way ever since Jodie Dallas on Soap switched between gay, bi, and transgendr as he slept with every woman he could find (including lesbians) but no men.  Since Steven Carrington on Dynasty had multiple romances with women while saying "I've got a pretty face.  I must be gay!"

One of the latest renditions is Teddy Montgomery, a "confused" and "conflicted"  high school tennis star on the Beverly Hills 90210 revamp 90210 (2009-2012), played by Trevor Donovan (seen here with a woman's hands groping him).

In Seasons 1 and 2, Teddy is a "regular guy," aka heterosexual, in fact a "player" who is juggling several girlfriends at one time.

In Season 3, he's still gawking over girls, grabbing at girls, and falling for girls, but one night he gets drunk and hooks up with Ian (Kyle Riabko).

Ian thinks he's "on the downlow" and promises not to tell anyone, but Teddy insists "I'm straight!" and tries to beat him up.  Later Teddy admits that he's been feeling "confused" for years.

What's to be confused about?  He obviously likes guys, and he has had endless sexual exploits with girls.  It's pretty clear that he's bisexual.

Nope, he's gay.  His heterosexual years were just "lying to himself."

But...he didn't just pretend to like girls.  He had sex with them-- a lot.

That was a lie, too.

He kisses Ian.  Someone snaps their picture, and tries to blackmail him!  Yes, people are still blackmailed, lest their horrible secret is revealed.

At least in Beverly Hills, which is awash in pre-Stonewall homophobia.

No gay community.  Nothing but bars.   Reminds me of the Manhattan of Will and Grace.

In Season 4, Teddy comes out to his father, who has a pre-Stonewall explosive homophobic reaction.

And being gay threatens the campaign of his Uncle, who is running for Congress.

Um...having a gay nephew will cost you the election?  In California?  In 2010?

In Season 5, Teddy's ex-girlfriend Silver wants to have a baby, and asks him to be a donor.  He agrees, and they realize that there's still a spark between them.

So is he bisexual now?

Nope, still gay.  He just gets "sparks" for girls now and then.  Doesn't everybody?

Oct 4, 2013

Kurt Vonnegut: Homophobia on Trafalmador

When I was in college in the 1980s, all of the hip, cool guys read Kurt Vonnegut.  All of them.  He was even printed in Playboy

Oh, he's great!  They would exclaim.  There's this science fiction writer, see, but it turns out that the things he's writing are real....and, and, the crazy Trafalamadorians are behind Stonehenge....and, and Vonnegut and his sister turn into ducks...and, and Billy Pilgrim gets unstuck in time...and, and.

Sounded sort of like Monte Python and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Besides, The Sirens of Titan had a hot guy on the cover.  So I checked some of Vonnegut's books out of the library.

The homophobia was equal to or surpasses that of anything on the syllabus of my Modern American Literature class.

In The Sirens of Titan (1959), Salo, a robot, is in love with a man.  "There was nothing offensive in this love.  That is, it wasn't homosexual."  Well, that's a relief!  Can't have any of that offensive "homosexual" love!

In God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965), we read the personals column of a newspaper.  Some of the ads are nice, and others are sick: "St. Louis hairdresser, male, would like to hear from other males in the Show-me State."  Am I supposed to find this disgusting?

In Breakfast of Champions (1973): Dwayne's son had "grown up to be a notorious homosexual" named Bunny.  It was filmed in 1999, with Bruce Willis as Dwayne and Lucas Haas (left) as Bunny.

The short story "Harrison Bergeron" (1961), an impassioned plea against equal rights, posits a future dystopia where everyone is equal -- literally.  Attractive people have to wear masks, smart people hear loud noises to break their concentration, and graceful dancers are hobbled, all due to the draconian political correctness fomented by lesbian feminazi Diana Moon Glampers.

 It's been filmed three times, with  Avind Harum, Sean Astin (top photo), and Richard Kindler as the heroic heterosexual Harrison.

Lest you think that Vonnegut's homophobia mellowed with age, try his memoir, Man without a Country (2005):

“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don't have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts."

Ok, how could being gay possibly hurt your parents?
And who in 2005 thought that you could decide to be gay in order to hurt them?

Oct 3, 2013

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Sokka Loves Zuko

If you have a free hour or two, check deviantart.com or fanfiction.net for  "Aang Sokka" or "Sokka Zuko."  You'll get millions of fan fiction romances, homoromantic or homoerotic pictures, and endless arguments over which anime boy is in love with which.

Avatar: The Last Airbender was a Nickelodeon animated tv series (2005-2008) that followed the conventions of anime.  Set in a medieval, vaguely Japanese fantasy world, it featured teenage martial artists with mystical powers struggling against the evil Fire Lord and his minions.

The main characters were:

1. Aang (Noah Ringer in the 2010 movie),  the last Airbender, a martial artist with mystical powers.
2. Katara (Nicola Peltz), a female Waterbender.
2. Sokka (Jackson Rathbone, top photo), the older brother of Katara, who doesn't have any bending powers.
4. Zuko (Dev Patel, left), a Firebender, the exiled prince of the Fire Kingdom who eventually becomes their ally.

The gay subtexts are blatant, obvious, and, according to most fans, deliberate, a reflection of the same-sex romances commonplace in "real" Japanese anime.  Sokka and Zuko are really into each other (sorry, I meant Sokka and Aang, or Aang and Zuko, or Sokka and one of the minor characters, or Zuko and.....)

It was an enormous success, spawning video games, comic books, action figures, toys, books, a feature film, and a large fan base that writes stories, draws pictures, and dresses up for cosplay. In 2012, Nickelodeon premiered a sequel series, The Legend of Korra, featuring Aang's son.

Oct 1, 2013

David Manners: Dracula's Boyfriend

Dracula (1931) begins with a scene in which the Count (Bela Lugosi) shows  real estate broker Renfield (Dwight Frye) to a bedroom in his castle, leers at him, fondles his chest, and then looks suggestively at the bed.  It's a surprisingly homoerotic scene in a movie otherwise given over to heterosexual exploits (Dracula doesn't even follow through on his sexual assault; he sends a clutch of female vampires to finish the job).

There was at least one gay actor in the movie, David Manners, but he played a role without gay subtexts, Harker, the love interest to Dracula's main victim Mina.

Born in 1901, the wealthy, aristocratic David Manners began his career as a swimsuit model.  He starred in 39 movies from 1929 to 1936, including tearjerkers, romantic comedies, and horror, but only two, that I know of, had strong gay subtexts:

1. The war movie Journey's End (1930), directed by famous gay director James Whale. Two soldiers in World War I, Raleigh (David Manners) and Osborne (Ian Maclaren) (above) are sent on a dangerous mission behind German lines.   They fall in love during the arduous journey. Raleigh is killed, and Osborne is overcome with grief.

2. The Truth About Youth (1931): Richard Carewe (Conway Teale) and his young ward, The Imp (David Manners) are both in love with the same woman.

Manners left Hollywood in 1936 for the stage.  During his long career, he was also a cowboy, a movie producer, and a painter.  After his partner of thirty years, Bill Mercer, died in 1978, he embarked upon a second (or third or fourth?) career as a novelist.

 He died in 1998.

Sep 30, 2013

Spring 1981: Only Serious Heterosexuals Need Apply

Dorm Shower
University of Toronto professor David Gilmour, an "acclaimed author," is under fire for an interview he gave with Hazlitt Magazine, in which he explains why he doesn't have any women or gay men (or Chinese) authors on his syllabus: "I only teach the people that I truly, truly love.  Unfortunately, none of them happen to be women, or Chinese.  I only teach serious heterosexual guys -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Roth, Henry Miller."

Apparently gay authors can produce witty, humorous works, but not serious literature.

The fact that this homophobic, racist, sexist jerk still has a job doesn't surprise me -- I'm in academe, where homophobia, racism, and sexism is rampant.

East Hall
I remember a spring afternoon in 1981, my junior year at Augustana, sitting in my Modern American Literature class in East Hall.  Dr. Dahlquist (not his real name), a grim, rotund hobbit, was lecturing on The Sun Also Rises, but I heard only a low drone; I was gazing out the southern window, at the Fratboys tossing Frisbees on the quad, or reclining under trees with paperbacks. I couldn’t read their titles, but I was certain that they were all about boys falling in love with girls.

Suddenly,to break the silence, or just to stir things up a bit, I raised my hand and asked if Ernest Hemingway may have been Gay.  (I think I said "Homosexual Tendencies."

Dr. Dahlquist stared, utterly taken aback. Someone behind me stifled a snicker. Otherwise the room became absolutely silent.   I was certain that the Deplorable Word had never been spoken in any classroom at Augustana College, or at any classroom at any college anywhere in the world.

After glancing at the other students, then back to me again, Dr. Dahlquist decided that I was not wisecracking or being initiated into a frat, but asking a legitimate question, however scandalous. He forgot all about Hemingway and began an impromptu lecture:

Christopher Marlowe
That currently fashionable vice destroys the intellect, Dr. Dalhquist said, reducing its victims to flitty, waspish creatures fit only for manicuring and gossip.

In spite of the ambiguities of his verse, we know that Walt Whitman scattered illegitimate children along the Eastern seaboard.

Shakespeare’s infamous sonnets written to  “Mr. W. H.” reflects a mere convention of the day, and Christopher Marlowe’s reputed love of  “tobacco and boys” was a defamation by his enemies.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was a priest, therefore celibate, and as for Oscar Wilde, history tells them that he was merely “posing” as a sodomite: he had a wife and two children:

“The idea that a homo might have the wits to be a writer, especially a great writer, is absurd.”

Strangely enough, Dr. Dahlquist also taught my Creative Writing class, and constantly praised my stories. 

Thirty years have passed, but not much has changed.  Only "serious heterosexuals" need apply.


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